Rose, Rose, I Love You
|"Rose, Rose, I Love You
|Single by Yao Lee|
|from the album "Singing Girl" (Pathé Records EMI B. 597)|
|Label||Pathé Records / EMI|
|Songwriter(s)||Chen Gexin, Wu Cun (吳村)|
"Rose, Rose, I Love You" (Chinese: 玫瑰玫瑰我愛你; pinyin: Méiguì méiguì wǒ ài nǐ) is a 1940 Mandarin popular song composed by Chen Gexin and first recorded by Yao Lee. An English-language version whose lyrics have little in common with the original Mandarin was first recorded by Frankie Laine in 1951. It remains the only major popular music chart hit in the United States written by a Chinese composer. The song was brought back to England by broadcaster Wilfrid Thomas in 1951 after doing commentary on the war in Malaya. When he played it on his BBC program he received a barrage of requests for a repeat and he played it again in several more programs.The song is also known under the titles "Shanghai Rose" and "China Rose."
The original Chinese lyrics were by Wu Cun (Ng Chuen; 吳村 Wú Cūn) and the music was credited to Lin Mei (林枚), a pen name of the popular songwriter Chen Gexin. The song was first recorded in 1940 by Yao Lee as an interlude for the movie Singing Girl and released as a single on Pathé Records (EMI) catalog number B. 597. Yao Lee's Mandarin version was also released in the US and UK in the early 1950s by Columbia Records, catalog numbers 39420 and 2837 respectively. Yao Lee was credited as "Miss Hue Lee" in this release. Other early releases have also credited her as "Yiu Lei."
The English-language lyrics were written by the British radio presenter Wilfrid Thomas. It was recorded by American singer Frankie Laine and the Norman Luboff Choir, with Paul Weston and his orchestra, on 6 April 1951, and released by Columbia Records as catalog number 39367. The song reached #3 on the Billboard magazine music charts. At this time Columbia also released Yao Lee's original Mandarin version in the US and UK under the English title, "Rose, Rose, I Love You." When the songwriter Chen Gexin's youngest son went to the United States for advanced education, he was able to meet Laine and maintained a correspondence. The English lyrics have little in common with the original Mandarin, but they pay subtle tribute to the titular Mandarin phrase "méigui méigui" (lit. rose, rose) by including three times the similar-sounding English phrase "make way," with its normal English meaning.
The Mandarin version also has reached a degree of popularity in Vietnam with various performers, such as Thu Ngọc and Thái Doanh Doanh, covering the song under the title "Cánh hồng Trung Quốc."
The Shanghai Restoration Project has recently covered the Mandarin version in their album "The Classics" (2014), featuring singer Le Zhang (張樂).
The original Mandarin song was featured in the 1996 film The Pillow Book, both opening and closing the film and serving as a leitmotif representing the protagonist Nagiko's childhood. It was also featured in the 2005 film The White Countess (the film appears to be set in 1937, so the inclusion of the song would be anachronistic). Anita Mui sings this song in the 1989 Jackie Chan film Miracles.
David Bowie references the song in the 1984 documentary Ricochet. While visiting Hong Kong on his Serious Moonlight Tour, Bowie is filmed having dinner with a group of local socialites. He asks if they know the song, and several of the guests begin to sing it. At another time, the song is heard as a backdrop to footage of Hong Kong street life.